Stoke edge tight affair
By Alex Dunn
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Stoke are through to the FA Cup fifth round after a 2-1 win over Walsall.Stoke are through to the FA Cup fifth round after a 2-1 win over Walsall at The Britannia Stadium.
Goals from Mamady Sidibe and Luke Chadwick put Stoke firmly in control but Walsall's Kevin James made for a nervy finish for the Championship side when he reduced the deficit in the 51st minute.
Whilst Walsall will garner confidence from the manner in which they performed against higher division opposition, ultimately, it was Johan Boskamp's outfit that progressed to the competition's latter stages.
The early exchanges saw Stoke's added quality tell as Paul Gallagher and Sidibe posed constant questions with the fluidity of their movement, with the latter spurning the game's first opportunity when he blazed over from just outside the box.
However, Paul Merson's side were not without chances of their own as both Mads Timm, on loan from Manchester United, and Daniel Fox had chances that drifted narrowly wide.
Gallagher and Chadwick saw Stoke begin to play their way back in to the contest they had lost control of and on the stroke of half time, the home side's pressure told as Sidibe crashed home after Karl Henry's initial shot had been blocked on the line.
The forward forays of Chadwick were causing plenty of problems for Walsall and after the break, it was no surprise when he doubled Stoke's lead.
Cutting in from the right he struck a fine shot that beat Andy Oakes through its impressive pace, with Stoke now firmly in control of proceedings.
Credit must though go to Walsall, who undeterred, grabbed a lifeline through James when he converted a Mark Wright cross from close range.
Walsall substitute Alex Nicholls nearly proved the underdog's hero when he saw an effort cannon off the post before Stoke substitute goalkeeper Ed de Goey pulled off a series of noticeable stops to ensure his side's progression.
|Team Name||Stoke City||Walsall|
|Shots On Target||4||3|
|Shots Off Target||11||4|